News: Pfizer appeal unsuccessful
After an unsuccessful appeal by Pfizer to have a patent ruling overturned, we may well see prescriptions for Lyrica being switched back to generic pregabalin. The patent that covered Lyrica use in generalized anxiety disorder and epilepsy expired in July 2014 but a second patent that protects the use of Lyrica for neuropathic pain extends until July 2017. Pfizer argued that the majority of patients prescribed pregabalin were taking it for neuropathic pain. In 2015, this forced GPs to review their prescribing practices and switch prescriptions for those patients using pregabalin for neuropathic pain to the branded product Lyrica. As you would expect, GPs were far from excited at the prospect of changing these prescribing practices considering the high workload already piled upon them.
In September 2016 the High Court ruled that Pfizer’s existing patent claim that covered pain and neuropathic pain were invalid. Obviously this was a massive blow to Pfizer who appealed against the decision but were unsuccessful. The Court of Appeal did however uphold Pfizer’s rights to market the drug for more specific neuropathic pain conditions – including post-herpetic neuralgia. Therefore, the brand Lyrica should still be prescribed if used for these limited indications. NHS England has asked for GPS to continue prescribing branded Lyrica for general neuropathic pain until they have fully considered the necessary next steps, but it appears likely that pharmacists will see progressively less prescriptions for Lyrica over the coming weeks, and instead will see greater prescribing of more cost-effective generic pregabalin